Advancing Manufacturing Technology

iNEMI Provides Industry Leadership on Environment

HERNDON, VIRGINIA (January 8, 2009) — The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI) is organizing new initiatives to proactively address environmental issues. iNEMI sponsored two forums in late 2008 that brought together leaders from the electronics supply chain, government, academia and NGOs to focus on strategic environmental topics for the electronics industry. Both forums outlined industry action to address current and future challenges and, in response to this input, iNEMI has identified and is developing new collaborative efforts.

The first meeting was the iNEMI Sustainability Summit, held in late September in Schaumburg, Illinois (U.S.). Participants in this summit identified areas where the electronics industry could take action toward greater sustainability, discussed priorities, and defined proactive programs on which the electronics supply chain could collaborate. Proposals for four iNEMI projects emerged from these discussions:

  • Non-competitive lifecycle assessments (LCAs) for information and communication technology (ICT) products based on a building block approach using assembly emulators
  • PVC replacement alternatives, using LCAs to compare PVC vs. PVC-free cables and technical evaluation of alternatives
  • Establish market for post-consumer plastics as feedstock for green products (e.g., polycarbonate, ABS acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene)
  • Establish new electronic applications for post-consumer blended plastics (e.g., housings for power supplies)
Two of these initiates are currently in development. Tom Okrasinski, Alcatel-Lucent, and Todd Myers, Cisco, have volunteered to champion the Eco-Impact Evaluator for ICT Equipment Initiative (non-competitive LCAs); and Scott O'Connell, Dell, is championing the PVC alternatives effort. 

The second meeting was the Intel Symposium on Environmentally Friendly Materials, held in Shanghai in November. This meeting focused on the elimination of halogenated flame retardants (HFRs) such as brominated and chlorinated flame retardants and PVC to create halogen-freeeee electronic products, and the impact this change will have on the electronics manufacturing supply chain, including material availability, cost and reliability. The symposium, which was a follow-up to a similar meeting held January 2008 in the U.S., provided a forum to discuss concerns about these alternative materials, identify opportunities to address these concerns, and continue the process of industry alignment on common solutions to implement these materials.

"In the year since our first industry symposium on the elimination of halogenated flame retardants and PVC, we have seen encouraging progress, said Stephen Tisdale, Packaging Manager for Intel. While there are still several challenges to address, we see a much greater understanding of HFR-free materials properties across the supply chain. Industry efforts, such as iNEMI's HFR-Free PCB projects, are needed to ensure a smooth transition to these new materials....

The elimination of HFRs changes the fundamental composition of FR4 material, and these changes affect material properties, impacting design and product performance. HFR-free materials typically have higher Dk, lower Df, lower CTEs and lower moisture absorption. Furthermore, the replacement of one standardized flame retardant with multiple choices and formulations leads to greater variances in properties.

Industry needs to test processes and product performance to optimize product quality for a smooth transition. OEMs and ODMs must understand how halogen-free materials impact their designs for optimum product performance. PCB fabricators need to develop HFR-free fabrication processes and acquire UL certification to be ready for product transition. And laminate manufacturers need to improve HFR-free material properties in areas where mitigation techniques are required (e.g., changes in PCB design).

As with the transition to lead-free, the elimination of HFRs will require material compliance reporting and marking schemes to differentiate materials, parts and assemblies. Other areas identified for industry action include:
 
  • Work with IPC standards committee to create a practical industry definition of halogen-freeeee
  • Create a HFR- and PVC-free component and board test specification and metrology
  • Through traditional volume learning curves, achieve HFR- and PVC-free materials cost, delivery and quality parity

Presentations from the Symposium on Environmentally Friendly Materials are available on CD for 75 USD. For additional information, go to
http://www.inemi.org/cms/newsroom/Presentations/Intel_Symposium_Nov08.html

"iNEMI has long been a strong force in driving industry toward meeting both regulatory and market requirements for environmental performance, said Jim McElroy, CEO of iNEMI. Through leadership of executives on our Board of Directors, we are now in a new phase where we are working to set a more strategic agenda so that our members can be on the forefront, which is critically important both to our industry as well as the global society."

About iNEMI
The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiatives mission is to identify and close technology gaps, which includes the development and integration of the electronics industry supply infrastructure. This industry-led consortium is made up of more than 65 manufacturers, suppliers, industry associations and consortia, government agencies and universities. iNEMI roadmaps the needs of the electronics industry, identifies gaps in the technology infrastructure, establishes implementation projects to eliminate these gaps (both business and technical), and stimulates standards activities to speed the introduction of new technologies. The consortium also works with government agencies, universities and other funding agencies to set priorities for future industry needs and R&D initiatives. iNEMI is based in Herndon, Virginia (near Washington, D.C.), with regional offices in Shanghai, China and Limerick, Ireland. For additional information about iNEMI, visit http://www.inemi.org.

For further information:
Cynthia Williams
+1 207-871-1260
cwilliams@inemi.org